Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bertie's War (TOS Crew Review)

We received the book, Bertie's War, written by Barbara Tifft Blakey, published by Kregel Publications, to read and review as members of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. The book is a novel about a 12-year-old girl in 1962 who is dealing with the usual family dynamics issues in addition to her fear of all the talk about bombs and Communists.

We started the book together, but I realized pretty early that my children would probably not enjoy this book. One, they are a bit too young (the eldest is barely 10), and two, the main character is quite complex. Bertie's family involves an older sister - one who is pretty typical, in my opinion, and seems to look down a bit on her more "immature" younger sister (Bertie) - as well as a younger brother who is nearly always into some mischief. She also has a fairly detached father who seems overly-critical, and a mother who seems to do the balancing act of mothers everywhere.

I can honestly say that I did identify with the main character quite a bit, but that did not make it easier to get into the book. I was quite uncomfortable with my eldest daughter's questions about "the woodshed" even though I realize it was likely a commonplace discipline method of the time period. I do think this book would be better suited to teens, especially teen girls. The understanding of complex behaviors and implicit feelings would be critical to enjoying this novel. While I understood Bertie's fears and feelings, I do not think it would be widely understood by people who did not grow up in Bertie's shoes - with a critical, detached father, watching your siblings be severely disciplined and feeling there is no room for error in life, and having the sense that you are not able to open up to your parents about real fears (in Bertie's case, the threat of war). A person who does not understand that background might just get frustrated with her character's severe insecurity.

Anyway, the book weaves morality and a depth of character into the book quite flawlessly, but is just wasn't right for my children for right now. I have a feeling, though, that my eldest daughter will gobble it up in a few years!

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say, click here.

* Disclaimer: This novel was provided to me for free to read and review honestly. I received no compensation for this review. This review is my honest opinion about the novel I received.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, this is Barbara Blakey, the author of Bertie's War. Thank you for commenting on my book. I appreciate your wisdom in knowing when a child is (or is not) ready for a particular book. Your words were encouraging to me; thank you.